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REVIEW:  Fury of Fire (Dragonfury Series #1) by Coreene Callahan

REVIEW: Fury of Fire (Dragonfury Series #1) by Coreene Callahan

Dear Ms. Callahan:

I did receive a copy of your book from a publicist to review but I ended up buying the book from Amazon as I believe it was discounted at one point and I prefer to read digital over paper. I had heard good things about your book and was excited to read it. While I understood the appeal, I found the story to be standard paranormal romance fare bringing little new to the sub genre.

Fury of Fire (Dragonfury Series #1) by Coreene CallihanThere is a group of good shapeshifting dragons called the NightFury who are fighting against bad shapeshifter dragons called the Razorbacks. The bad shapeshifter dragons are engaged in scientific experiments that would aid their dominance of the world. The good shapeshifter dragons are experiencing a life changing moment in the beginning of the book. The leader, Bastian, has decided to take a mate and obtain a son in order to further the numbers of good dragons available to fight the bad dragons.

The war had gone on for so long that Bastian had lost count of the casualties. Centuries of fallen comrades, of hunting and being hunted. It would never stop. A clean victory was an impossibility for either side now. With only a handful of warrior dragons left, little choice remained but to replenish their numbers…and that meant breeding the next generation.

The problem is that every woman who births a dragon son (and it is always a male child) dies and while Bastian feels a bad about this, it cannot be helped. He’ll make sure that the mating, however, is wonderful and he’ll also take care of the mate until she has the baby dragon. That Bastian. He’s a thoughtful guy. The fact is that the “good guys” simply want Bastian to pick a girl out of the crowd and be done with it despite the fact that they are essentially dooming a girl to death. But all is okay because a) they feel bad about it and b) they’ll take good care of her until the alien baby kills her during the birthing process. But it’s not murder, according to Bastian:

He didn’t even know what she looked like and yet, he mourned her. Already felt sorry for the life he would take. It wasn’t murder. Not really. He would never willingly hurt a woman, but that didn’t change what he must do. To save his kind he must breed, and females never survived birthing Dragonkind.

But it’s not murder to  choose to impregnate a girl knowing the end result will kill her.

The dragons have human servants, much like the Black Dagger Brotherhood, that are “bred to serve”. “It was his job to keep the lair organized and well stocked, to caretake like you read about. The TLC routine had been bred into Daimler.” What’s really unfortunate is that Daimler is a Numbia, a cherub with dark curls and gold teeth. I was uncomfortable with the term Numbai being used with people who are “bred” to serve.

Bastian has limited time in which to seduce a woman because in five days, the Meridian will be in alignment which is the time in which the power is the highest and Bastian should be breeding. Fortunately, Bastian runs into Myst, a nurse, at a scene in the mountains where a young woman was birthing a dragon baby. Myst does not know what is wrong with her patient but she recognizes that the baby will have to be excised lest they both die. Bastian finds the two of them and Myst’s electrostatic energy marks her as a powerful woman. In fact, Myst is referred to as a “female of great worth” which seemed to be yet another nod or derivation of the BDB.

Bastian immediately marks Myst as his own and sets out to convince her that they must be together. He actually falls in love with her at the first whiff of her powerful energy and cannot want to copulate. Strong babies are derived from two powerful parents. Of course, there is that little problem of Myst dying once she has given birth and the nightly fighting that Bastian must engage in with the bad guys.

Consistency in details was a little problematic. For instance, at location 3331, Myst complains about the kitchen being filled with only organic foods “The entire kitchen was full of organic, whole food that no one in her right mind would want to eat. And she was a nurse, for pity’s sake…totally game for the health food scene.” But they also have chips, makings for waffles, and other delicious foods. At location 4626, “But then, the Numbai was all about pleasing those he served. Well that, and food. The male never missed a beat in the kitchen. Was always experimenting, serving new dishes, everything gourmet-style. Which was a good thing. Daimler kept the males of the lair satisfied in the eats department… ”

There are a number of lines or analogies that didn’t make sense. For instance, “The stats read like a rap sheet without the criminal element: twenty-eight years old, lived alone, a landscape architect with a shoe fetish. Okay, so she’d made up the shoe thing, but…really.” Why is twenty-eight years, lived alone, statistics in a rap sheet?

Myst wasn’t an easy pushover. She was scared of the dragons, wanted to escape from Bastian’s stronghold, and exhibited some fairly good sense. The dynamic of the poor downtrodden warrior males living in their secret conclave to which they will bring a woman, one by one, is a magnetic storyline.  Bastian and his band of half dragons are trying to do good in their world.   The  idea of men taking women to their beds, impregnating them with the knowledge that doing such acts would kill the female is fairly unappealing. No matter how great their remorse, it really is murder.  In some ways, this only a story that can be told within the romance boundaries. We readers know that murder won’t happen in these circumstances because Myst dying would prevent the HEA.  Readers who are primarily PNR fans might enjoy this series despite the fact that it brings nothing new to the table.  The pace is good, the fight scenes are entertaining, and Myst and Bastian have a strong connection.  C

Best regards,




REVIEW: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

REVIEW: Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

Dear Ms Briggs,

I’m not just an avid reader of your Mercy Thompson series and your Alpha & Omega series, I’m the sort of fan who counts off the days until your next book like a kid counting the days until Christmas. But the problem with Christmas is that the wait can make even good gifts seem like something of a let down. Though I genuinely enjoyed your new novel, Fair Game, there were aspects of the story that disappointed me, too, and I think I might have been more forgiving if I hadn’t expected quite so much.

Patricia Briggs Fair GameFair Game
, takes the Alpha & Omega series’s werewolf protagonists, Charles and Anna, to Boston to help the FBI search for the kidnapped victim of a serial killer. At the same time, Charles, who acts as an enforcer, is haunted by the ghosts of out-of-control wolves he has put down at the order of his father, Bran, the leader of the werewolves.

One of my favorite aspects of this series is Charles and Anna’s relationship. I would have loved to see them confront Charles’s problem together, but that isn’t what happens. Instead, he keeps his problem secret out of fear that the ghosts will hurt Anna and/or she will leave him. This issue persists through much of the book, with Anna feeling miserable that Charles won’t talk to her, and Charles fearing that Anna will stop loving him if she is exposed to the terrible things he has done.

The lack of communication is so bad, that it actually gets to the point where this happens:

He’d intended to talk with her, he remembered, to tell her … But neither of them was in shape for talk.

That passage made me want to scream at the book the way sports fans scream at the TV when their team fumbles a play. It’s frustrating when the lack of one timely, honest, five minute conversation between the hero and heroine creates major complications — especially when characters know they should communicate, but don’t.

The other thing that frustrated me about this story was the villain. I am not a fan of serial killers as villains because I think they’re simplistic and overused. I also dislike the horrific oneupmanship of how every new fictional serial killer seems to have killed more people more horrifically than the last. I can set aside my dislike in cases where the story offers a twist on the formula, but this serial killer offered nothing new. I pegged the killer from the killer’s first scene, and then had to spend most of the novel waiting for Anna and Charles to figure it out.

In any other book, I think my frustration with the above-mentioned plot elements would have made me dislike the book as a whole, but that is not the case with Fair Game. Even when the plot bothered me, the wonderful world-building and well-drawn characters kept me engaged and enjoying the story.

I love how you used the Alpha & Omega series’ third-person point of view to give the reader insight into the thoughts and lives of secondary characters, and to show how Charles and Anna are perceived by the people around them. Particularly striking is difference between the way other characters see Charles, the way Anna sees him, and the way Charles sees himself. The narration from Anna’s and Charles’s point of view shows that he’s kind and thoughtful.   The scenes from other characters points of view show that even the characters who know him best don’t fully understand the toll his duties take on him. But Anna sees and understands, and her efforts to help and protect Charles even as he pushes her away show how their relationship has grown, and how Anna has grown.

When you introduced Anna in the novella, Alpha and Omega, she had been horribly abused. In subsequent books, we’ve seen her struggle to overcome the emotional effects of her abuse, and, with effort, succeed. In Fair Game, she’s smart, resourceful, and strong, but what makes her strength worth mentioning in a sub-genre filled with strong heroines is that Anna’s strength is a choice. When she’s in a tough situation, we see her consciously making that choice. In a sub-genre where the heroines and heroes are often stronger than human and larger than life, Anna’s vulnerability and honesty make her one of my favorite characters in recent years.

One of my favorite new characters is FBI agent Leslie Fisher, whom we meet for the first (but hopefully not the last) time in Fair Game. Her story gave me a glimpse of what life is like for ordinary people in Charles and Anna’s world. And what a world it is–deep and detailed, filled with black and white, and so many shades of gray.  Be they mortal or monster, everyone in this world does what they feel they need to do in order to survive, but even the scariest characters like the witches and the fae have their sympathetic moments. I love how it is ultimately those sympathetic, human qualities that shape the story for good and ill.

Overall, Fair Game wasn’t everything I’d hoped it would be, but it did deliver all the things I love most about the Mercy and Alpha & Omega books: easygoing-yet-immersive writing style, well-drawn characters, and excellent world-building. It passed my three R’s test—Readability, Recommendation and Rereading. I read the bulk of it in one sitting, I’ve already recommended it to another Briggs fan, and I know I’ll end up rereading it while I’m waiting for your next book to come out.

This book might not be the best place for new readers to start, but it is a recommended read for fans and series followers. I didn’t love Fair Game, but I did like it. The ending left me excited to read future installments in both series. I’ve already marked my calendar for spring, 2013, when the next book hits the shelves.